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Read advance reader review of The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara, page 2 of 3

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The Immortal King Rao

A Novel

by Vauhini Vara

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara X
The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara
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  • Published May 2022
    384 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Page 2 of 3
There are currently 21 member reviews
for The Immortal King Rao
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  • Lynn D. (Kingston, NY)
    From India to Seattle
    I recommend this book highly to science fiction fans. What happens when IT is unchecked and the Algorithm controls society? Technology that was designed to connect us and make us equals has led to greater divisiveness. And then there's Hothouse Earth as we failed to solve climate problems.
    The contrast of King Rao poor youth in India with his large extended family with his success in high-tech Seattle is well done. I wish the other major characters had been more fully developed. There's plenty of satire here, too, which is fun.
  • Marion M. (Mishawaka, IN)
    Not an Ordinary Book
    Ordinarily, I would not read a dystopian book, but this is not an ordinary book. I was attracted to the title because of the technology and India connections. There are actually three tales in one that generally alternate from India to technology to dystopian society. All can be read separately as a stand alone, but read together the result is a complicated thoughtful novel that interweaves assorted societal issues: dalit (untouchable) caste, artificial intelligence, mental Internet, hothouse earth, intertwining of government and industry, social profiling, dissenters and demonstrators. One is left to wonder whether the "new" society and culture is better or worse than the current. By weaving the three yarns together, the result is an intricate story requiring thoughtful reading to keep the many many characters in focus and to understand how one segment provides detail to the other segments. For example, even though King Rao has lived in the United States most of his life, some of his inner thoughts and feelings reflect his Indian heritage. The team of King and Margie and their technology business development in the Seattle area remind me a bit of the rise of Bill Gates and Microsoft. The book is not a page turner nor one that can be skimmed.
  • Patricia W. (Desoto, TX)
    The Immortal King Rao
    This is a thought-provoking story with timely treatments of climate change, economic systems, wealth disparity, resistance, and the influence of technology. Vara writes of a new government in which people of the world become "Shareholders" and build up social capital in corporations that replace the government. The new government derives from a computer company that is founded by a man that was born a Dalit in India and immigrated to the United States for graduate school. His early life in India is interspersed in the story. I found this story to be both fascinating and disturbing.
  • Randi H. (Bronx, NY)
    The Immortal King Rao
    The Immortal King Rao is seemingly about technology and how, in the future, tech has become the overarching world political authority. However, it is also about family relationships and how we are tethered to our family. I enjoyed the story of King Rao, a Dalit in India who becomes CEO of the global government before his downfall. Interspersed with his story is that of his daughter, Athena, who chafes at the ties holding her to her father.
  • Jill S. (Durham, NC)
    Memories will endure
    There was something déjà vu in reading The Immortal King Rao not long after finishing Jennifer Egan's Candy House. Both books, at their core, are about brilliant tech entrepreneurs who invent ways to gain access to every memory ever had.

    Egan's version is a new technology called Own Your Unconscious – sharing every memory in exchange for access to others. Vara's version is an Internet-connected device called The Harmonica, which provides access to all memories. Both books present estranged citizens who have rejected the new way, called the "eluders" in Candy House and the "exes" in Immortal King Rao.

    I am not suggesting that either of these talented authors "borrowed" from the other; the books are being published at almost the same time. I do think it is an interesting commentary on our post (or present) pandemic society that writers are exploring the theme of memory preservation and human longing for real connection.

    The concept of an India-born biotechnological genius and his daughter, Athena Rao, who tries to escape him after being implanted with his memories to make him immortal, is compelling. King Rao's Coconut Corporation is evocative of the Apple Corporation with a dystopian spin – a corporate-run government where everyone (at least everyone who doesn't opt out) is a Shareholder. Everything is determined by an algorithm (or ALGO), which is unerringly spot-on with where capitalism appears to be heading.

    Equally compelling is the human-interest story. There's a touch of Miranda, from Shakespeare's The Tempest, in Athena. The technological aspects do not undermine or overshadow the human elements: the complicated relationship between father and daughter, the themes of betrayal and love and longing and understanding, and the courage it takes to open up to one another. The end message is poignant and timely: as we continue to drive ourselves to extinction, what if we could "gather up our stories and hold on to them for safekeeping?... Wouldn't that be our best shot at proving to the universe that, once upon a time, we were here?"
  • Helia R. (Goodlettsville, TN)
    Too many themes to count
    As much as I wanted to love this sprawling, inventive, and ambitious novel, it wasn't for me. It reads like five books rolled into one, and I found the frequent scene/time/story-line hopping exhausting to follow. By the time I got into the groove (and just went with it), the book ended.
    There is so much brilliance and profound knowledge in this tale, but I wish the author had saved some of her ideas and characters for another book instead of cramming them all into this one.
  • Bonne O. (Hartwell, GA)
    King Rao's New World Order
    Initially, the story was tedious trying to follow two story lines over a half a century and keeping track of a large Indian families trials and tribulations. However, partway through the book significant parallels of King Rao's world and escalating current issues of today's world began to emerge. To solve all worlds' problems, the author presents sophisticated technological solutions, via King Rao. As a result, the various consequences to achieving a new world order can be unsettling. Anyone in the field of technology would be totally absorbed by this story.
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